Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How We Operate


Yesterday, I talked about the first step in the process of writing my feature story about the adult industry. (I'll be blogging about it transparently here.) Now, the editor and I are on the same page in terms of the various details and ground rules. At this point, it's up to me to move forward relatively independently.

The writer stands in the middle of the open road, wondering which way to go. I've emailed a key contact in the Valley that I'm interested in working with, and I'm waiting on hearing back. During this time, I begin attempting to map out where the story will go, upon what it will focus in terms of characters and scenes to articulate its central thesis, and how the architecture of the piece will look.

There haven't been a ton of great stories on the adult movie industry, which is part of what makes writing about it interesting. It's not like you're bumping into a journalist every time you walk around a corner. Some of the best include Susan Faludi's "Waiting for Wood," Tom Junod's "The Devil in Greg Dark," and Evan Wright's "Scenes from My Life in Porn." Most of the rest that's been written about the industry has been crap. David Foster Wallace's "Big Red Son" is an interesting exercise, I suppose, and contains one interesting as-told-to anecdote relegated to a footnote, but its distance undermines the point of writing about something that's, well, compelling by nature. At least, that's my opinion. What's the point in writing about something from a point of remove when the subject demands engagement?

Initially, I had considered doing the piece something like Nickel and Dimed, but I don't know that that's a fit here. It remains on the table as a possibility, though. Such immersive approaches tend to posit the author as the central character, and I am under no impression that I am as interesting as my subject. Playing Virgil to the reader's Dante, I've found, works best when it comes to walking through the Valley of pornography.

Will I have one central focus or many? Do I want to keep it more mainstream or go to the outer edges? Do I want to write and shoot (photographs) at the same time or not? How transparent will this process be? Why am I writing a series of questions on this blog like I'm talking to myself? Have I finally gone mad? These are but a few of the questions cruising through the back streets of my mind as I drive this story forward.

Based on a recent email, it bears pointing out that I'm not exactly new to this subject. I set foot on my first porn set 12 years ago. So, yeah. But, uh, thanks! (Mmm, not really.)

In related news, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Jason Cato reports Robert Zicari and Janet Romano entered guilty pleas today in the case of US v. Extreme Associates. I imagine they did this for financial reasons and a disinclination to roll the dice, but after all this time, and all those AGs, it was a bit of a surprise. If you want the porn insider's take, read Mark's AVN.com account.

The best thing about the "Untitled Valley Story" project is that my editor has given me pretty free rein, within reason. And that is a great place for a writer to operate from. Where I want to go with the bit between my teeth remains to be seen.